Ninety-nine percent or more of us can admit that often, in the valleys of daily living, we lose the mountaintop perspective of our purpose in God’s Kingdom. I’m the first to admit it. So it might be helpful to look at our Torah portion, VaYera, and hike up to the higher ground where Avraham, side by side with Adonai, gazed upon Sodom and Gomorrah in the valley.
Adonai says in Genesis 18:17-19, “Should I keep secret from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham will most certainly become a great and mighty nation and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have made myself known to him so that he will command his sons and his household after him to keep the way of Adonai by doing righteousness and justice, so that Adonai may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” (TLV)
The following verses in Genesis 18 record Avraham’s humble intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, asking that God spare the cities for the sake of the righteous inhabitants. We get the impression that God told Avraham His plans so Avraham would fulfill his role of blessing other nations by praying and interceding for them. Genesis 20:7 and 17 also portray Avraham in his intercessory role as a prophet.
Indeed, intercession is a task that flows directly from the Lord Himself. Isaiah 59:15-16 says, “So now truth is missing, and whoever shuns evil becomes prey. Now when Adonai saw it, it was displeasing in His eyes that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one – He was astonished that no one was interceding. Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him, and His righteousness upheld Him.” Isaiah 53:12 explains how the Messiah fulfilled that role: “For He bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Intercessor in Hebrew is maphgia, which means someone who causes others to meet. (Paga means to meet.) Like our father Avraham and our Messiah Yeshua, we are also given the role of praying for others, whether believers or non-believers, pleading with God that He be merciful to them in their need and/or their depravity. One of our functions as Kingdom citizens is actively trying to bring people to meet in the middle with God, so to speak.
Paul ties it all together in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 – “Therefore, first of all I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people – for kings and all who are in authority – so we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and respectfulness. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. He desires all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and there is one Mediator between God and men – a human, Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself as a ransom for all – the testimony at the proper time.”
This beautiful passage puts intercession in a nutshell. Yeshua is the ultimate Intercessor, because He is the only one who can reconcile us with God; but believers are intercessors, too, on a smaller scale. (Just one more way we are to imitate Messiah!) The world hates God, but God “desires all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth.” He chose Avraham, He chose the Messiah, and He chooses us so that men and women have a chance to escape the snare of sin. As we lament the evil surrounding us, let us not forget to pray for the people so entrapped, and let us never neglect to be God’s representatives on earth